Attending to Unfinished Business: Anti-Terrorism and Human Rights

If I were Attorney-General my first priority would be to attend to unfinished business – namely to address pressing matters of law reform which have been recommended by bi-partisan or independent bodies after a suitably consultative and deliberative process of review.  This may seem an odd, rather mundane place to start work.  However, while there is certainly a case for more sweeping structural reforms of the Australian legal and political system (among which I would include a judicial appointments commission and greater regulation of political donations and lobbyists), the reality is that law’s effectiveness in the achievement of the goals which our society views as desirable – as well as its ability to guarantee the essential liberties of individuals – lies just as much in its detail as it does in the ‘bigger picture’. So, for instance, the Commonwealth Parliament has enacted over 45 laws dealing with terrorism since September 2001 but there are many elements in what has been produced which are problematic.  This is probably not surprising in light of how much legislative activity has occurred over such a brief time in an area where we have had so little experience.  But the flaws in these laws are not a mystery – many have been identified in a succession of parliamentary and other committee reports to which the present government has only offered the most minimal response.  These reports require action.

In 2006 alone, three major reviews delivered reports which the government could have used to improve our anti-terrorism laws.  One of these was the work of the Security Legislation Review Committee, chaired by former NSW Supreme Court Justice, Simon Sheller AO.  The Committee’s report highlighted a number of problems with the existing criminal offences relating to terrorism.  For example, it recommended that the crime of ‘association’ with a terrorist organisation be repealed since it considered that this was not properly targeted to criminalise active support of a terrorist cell yet counter-productively fed feelings of alarm and mistrust in Australia’s Muslim communities.  Elsewhere in its report, the Sheller Committee suggested that the section criminalising the provision of ‘training’ to a terrorist organisation was unworkable and required urgent amendment.  The Committee also expressed strong dissatisfaction over the current powers invested in the Attorney-General to ban organisations if he is of the view that they are ‘terrorist’ in character.  None of these recommendations – many replicated by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security’s mid-year report on the offence provisions – was accepted by the government.

Similarly, the very considered recommendations put forward by the Australian Law Reform Commission in its review of the revamped crime of sedition – a process undertaken by the Attorney-General as a sop to the objections of members of his own government to the introduction of these changes in 2005 – have lain dormant.  This is despite the fact that some of the ALRC’s recommendations would actually increase the scope of the offences – namely to deal with incitements to racial tension.

Of course there are some aspects of our current anti-terrorism law which require a more substantial reappraisal than offered to date by these processes.  Some people would repeal the lot but this is not a view I share.  However, I certainly think a case can be made for far greater constraints over many of the laws.  Control orders, for example, can only be justified, if at all, as a deprivation of liberty upon those who have been previously convicted of a terrorism-related offence, much as similar orders may be applied to released sex offenders.  Other powers, such as preventative detention orders, are, in my view, completely unwarranted – something reflected by the absence of anything comparable in other jurisdictions like Canada, New Zealand or the United Kingdom.

It is at this point, that attention to the specific necessarily requires a commitment to the larger issues.  The defects and excesses of Australia’s anti-terrorism laws largely stem from our lack of a commitment to human rights guarantees – either through a constitutional or statutory charter of rights.  The beneficial impact of such an instrument upon the measures adopted to combat the threat of terrorism is clear from looking at what has transpired elsewhere.  Worrying ‘innovations’ may still arise in those jurisdictions but they do so with a quality of scrutiny and debate sadly lacking here – and their final form is definitely more circumscribed than many of our new laws.  It is just not the case that those nations with a formal instrument of rights protection are less safe than us – indeed the very opposite may be true.

So, the development of an Australian Charter of Rights must be a key goal.  But in the meantime, there are plenty of steps – already publicly identified – which we can take to substantially improve the way in which our anti-terrorism laws protect us and protect our liberties.

Dr Andrew Lynch is Director of the Terrorism and Law Project, Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law, University of NSW

Fulfilling Australia’s Human Rights Obligations

If I were Attorney General, it would be an historic moment, as I would be the first female Attorney-General in Australia.  Janet Reno served as first female Attorney-General in the US from 1993-2001; Minka Harms was appointed the first female Attorney-General in Germany in 2006; Kim Campbell served as as Canada’s first female Minister of Justice and Attorney-General from 1990-1993; Margaret Wilson served as the first female Attorney General in New Zealand from 1999-2004; and the UK appointed Dominican-born Baroness Patricia Scotland of Asthal QC, the first black female Attorney General in 2007.  In Australia, despite three women now having been appointed to the highest court in the land, the office of Attorney-General has never been held by a woman. Along with Australia being the odd one out for not having had a female Attorney General, Australia is also the only western Democratic nation not to have a Human Rights Act.  So as the first female Attorney-General my first action would be to ensure that Australia joins the club of western democracies and enacts a National Human Rights Act that provides comprehensive human rights protection for all peoples in Australia.

Ensuring Australia is fully equipped to meet its international human rights obligations would be my main priority.  Having brought in a Human Rights Act, I would move Australia towards signing and ratifying a number of significant international instruments that would demonstrate to the international community and to Australians the seriousness of Australia’s commitment to uphold fundamental human rights standards.

I would have Australia sign the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  This Declaration has been negotiated by dedicated Indigenous representatives since 1985.  The Declaration, which was finally accepted by the UN General Assembly in September 2007, has been welcomed by Indigenous groups around the world as an important recognition of Indigenous rights by the international community.  The International Indigenous Women’s Forum, has said:

The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will serve as a comprehensive international human rights instrument for Indigenous women, men and youth around the world.  The Declaration...would allow Indigenous women to strengthen their advocacy in local, national and international arenas...[and] allow Indigenous women and their families to infuse local human rights struggles with the power of international law and hold their governments accountable to international human rights standards.

Australia was unfortunately one of only four nations who voted against the Declaration.  Signing and implementing this Declaration is a step Australia needs to take to ensure the rights of Indigenous Peoples here in Australia.

Secondly, I would also urge the Australian Government to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and I would urge the Australia Government to advocate at the international level for an Optional Protocol to the Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights.  The Optional Protocols provide a significant avenue for review and redress for individuals experiencing human rights violations.  Through the Optional Protocol to CEDAW, a woman experiencing domestic violence in Hungary was able to take her case to the CEDAW Committee when the Hungarian government had failed to act to provide her with adequate protection.  The Committee found that the government’s failure to provide adequate access to safe shelter, the lack of provision for restraining orders in the law, the long delays in her case, and the failure to detain or put the perpetrator in custody, amounted to the government having failed to provide timely or effective protection or remedy, as required to realise the woman’s rights under CEDAW.  The Committee went on to make several recommendations for the Hungarian government to protect this woman from further violence, but also to ensure such violations, through the failure to take appropriate action, does not occur for other women as well.  As can be seen with this example, the international community can play an important role in providing a check on the use of States’ authority, to ensure it is consistent with the interests of the people.  By committing itself to these optional protocols, the Australian Government would increase its accountability to protect people’s human rights at the international level, and allow Australians to access remedies for violations of human rights that are unaddressed at the domestic level.

Next, building on Australia’s signing of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in March 2007, I would move Australia towards ratifying the Convention and signing the Optional Protocol.  As recognised by United Nations Human Rights Commissioner, Louise Arbour, until this Convention came about, the existing standards and mechanisms had failed to provide adequate protection for people with disabilities.  Committing to upholding the rights in this convention will mean Australia will be obliged to address and realise the specific rights of people with disabilities in Australia

Having strengthened the legal framework for the recognition and protection of human rights, and the avenues of redress for human rights violations, I would then closely examine the violations of rights of Indigenous Peoples in Australia.  One area of immediate concern would be the potential human rights violations under this current Federal Government’s Emergency Response and Development Plan to protect Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory.  The kinds of human rights violations I would be concerned about include the compulsory acquisition of lands without adequate compensation, the undermining of self-determination of Indigenous Peoples with regards to decision making in their own organizations and affairs, rights to privacy, rights to social security, the right to work, and racial discrimination.  I would be looking to revoke the relevant legislation or at least those aspects of it that may lead to human rights violations.

Finally, I would encourage and support government programs to increase Indigenous women’s participation at all levels of government.  In particular (and perhaps predictably) I would seek to support an Indigenous woman to succeed me as the Attorney General.

Alison G Aggarwal is the Advocacy and Human Rights Officer with the Combined Community Legal Centres Group NSW

The Role of the Attorney General is to Act as Guardian of the Public Interest and the Rule of Law

In all of those countries to which Australians most usually see ourselves as related politically and socially – particularly the UK, New Zealand and Canada – there has been a tension in the role of Attorney-General.  The tension is between the office-holder’s position as a senior member of the executive and a senior member of the legislature; between the role as the first law officer of the Commonwealth and as a senior politician in the governing party. In the USA, Senator Patrick Leahy, Chair of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, in considering the appointment in 2001 of a new Attorney-General, spoke of the role of the Attorney as ‘not the President’s counsel... The attorney general is there for every one of us.’  However, in that country, the Attorney-General is not an elected member of the executive, rather he or she is appointed through a public hearing process.

By contrast, in the UK, the role of the Attorney-General has been said by the House of Commons Constitutional Affairs Committee in 2007 to ‘combine… legal administration and the provision of independent legal advice with the political duties of being a member of the Government’.  Other roles by the Committee in its report of the Constitutional Role of the Attorney General include ‘representing the public interest in civil proceedings’ and a ‘guardian of the Rule of Law’.

In New Zealand, the Crown Law Office in its 2002 Briefing Paper to the Attorney-General referred to this position as ‘a unique role that combines, on the one hand, the obligation to act on some matters independently, free of political considerations, with, on the other hand, the political partisanship that is otherwise properly associated with other Ministerial office.’

In Canada, the Federal Attorney-General has a role in Cabinet that has been referred to as the ‘guardian of the public interest’.

In balancing the potential for conflict inherent in the role of Attorney-General, I would seek to ensure, first, that there were sufficient checks and balances in place to safeguard the separation of power between the three branches of government – the legislature, the executive and the judiciary – and, second, that there were sufficient limits on the power of the executive to interfere with the rights and interests of the people.

As Attorney-General, whether at a state or federal level, I would strongly advocate to my Cabinet colleagues the importance of human rights as a core values framework for government and democratic processes.  I would also seek their support to conduct widespread community consultation about the meaning and relevance of human rights, the best way to promote and protect rights, and mechanisms to properly balance the power of the three branches of government with the will of the people.

We have watched the development in Australia of mechanisms that use human rights as just such a framework with the enactment of human rights laws in the ACT and Victoria.  These laws establish mechanisms for review of legislation and policy against a human rights framework.  The mechanisms involve both the executive in previewing legislation and reporting to the legislature on the compliance of that proposed legislation with the human rights framework, and the judiciary in determining any breach of human rights and observing any inconsistency of legislation with the framework while leaving the remedying of that inconsistency to the legislature.  In both jurisdictions, the models empower each of the three branches of government to work in different ways to ensure human rights protection and promotion.

In advocating for such standards and processes and for engagement with the community on the development of a human rights framework, I would be fulfilling the vital role of the Attorney as ‘guardian of the rule of law’, ‘guardian of the public interest’ and ‘counsel’ to the people.  Acknowledging that the introduction of a human rights framework has the potential to limit the power of the executive in particular, as Attorney, I would seek to remind my colleagues that those who hold positions within the executive – whether elected or as appointed public servants – do so as servants and representatives of the people.

In order to reinforce the separation of powers between the judiciary and the executive, I would seek to understand alternative judicial appointment mechanisms operating in other jurisdictions and would be keen to develop a mechanism that ensured greater separation of the appointment process from the political sphere.

And finally, I would seek to provide mechanisms to better empower the community to use the legal system in public interest issues through a review of current standing and costs rules in respect of public interest proceedings.  I would aim to introduce mechanisms that enabled enhanced access to justice through more effective representative processes.

Robin Banks is Chief Executive Officer of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and Director of the Public Interest Law Clearing House (NSW)

Lord Robert Walker - 'What Difference can a Human Rights Charter Make?'

In this paper, 'What Difference can a Human Rights Charter Make?', delivered to a joint seminar of the Human Rights Law Resource Centre and the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission on 15 August 2007, Lord Robert Walker of the UK House of Lords reflects on his experience ‘judging’ human rights under the UK Human Rights Act 1998.  The paper considers the difference that a Charter of Human Rights can make to the enjoyment and protection of human dignity, respect, equality and freedom.

Lord Robert Walker, Law Lord of the UK House of Lords, addresses the HRLRC

Time to Listen and Take Action on Discrimination and Vilification against Arab and Muslim Australians

  Australia has changed for all of us since the events of 11 September 2001, whether it is what we see on the television or having to take our shoes off at airport security checks.  However, for a lot of Muslim and Arab Australians the post-September 11 Australia is a particularly different place.

In 2003, based on reports from Muslim and Arab community organisations of increasing anti-Muslim and anti-Arab prejudice, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission launched the Ismaع project.  Ismaع means ‘listen’ in Arabic.  The aim of the project was to explore whether Muslim and Arab Australians were experiencing discrimination and vilification after September 11, the Bail bombings and the gang rape trials in Sydney.  The project also looked at the impact of any such discrimination and made recommendations for future action.

The findings of the Ismaع report, released in 2004, are shameful.  In his foreword to the report, Dr William Jonas, former Acting Race Commissioner of HREOC, describes Arab and Muslim Australians being ‘abused, threatened, spat on, assailed with eggs, bottles, cans and rocks, punched and even bitten’.  This situation has worsened since the London Bombings in 2005, the Cronulla Riots in 2005/2006 and the events of the last month.  Women in Islamic dress, including the hijab, niqab, chador and burqa, reported being particularly at risk.  People identifiable as Arab or Muslim experienced discrimination and vilification in employment, at school and university, in shopping centres, on public transport and on the street.

What is even more heart breaking is the affect of the violence, discrimination and vilification on Arab and Muslim Australians.  Participants in the Ismaع project reported ‘a substantial increase in fear, a growing sense of alienation from the wider community and an increasing distrust of authority’.

Given the experiences of innocent people as a result of these prejudices, you would hope that the law provides Arab and Muslim Australians with comprehensive protection.  You would be wrong.  While federal and state discrimination law generally protects people who have been treated badly because they are Arab, the situation for people who experience discrimination or vilification because they are Muslim is not so certain.

While the law is a bit unclear, it is very unlikely that people who are treated badly because they are Muslim are able to get an effective remedy under federal discrimination laws.  State discrimination laws have patchy coverage.  All states and territories, except New South Wales and South Australia, make it unlawful to discriminate against someone on the grounds of religion.  While New South Wales law does cover people who have been discriminated against or vilified on the basis of their ‘ethno-religious origin’, it is unlikely that this extends to people who have been treated badly solely because they are Muslim.  This gap is particularly problematic given that approximately half of Australia’s Muslim population lives in New South Wales.  The coverage of religious vilification laws is even sparser, with only Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania making it unlawful to vilify someone because of their religion.

So the message is that if you don’t get a job in the local supermarket in New South Wales or South Australia because you are wearing the hijab, the law thinks that’s fine.  If you are screamed at on the street in Perth, Sydney, Adelaide, Darwin or Canberra and called a ‘nappy head’ or told that ‘all Muslims should go home’ you cannot make a vilification claim.  Just when you needed it most, the law fails to protect you.

If I were the Federal Attorney-General I would think that was worth doing something about.

It is a basic human right to live a life free from discrimination.  The prohibition against discrimination and the right to comprehensive protection from discrimination is enshrined in a number of international conventions, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  It is time for action on the part of government and the broader community to protect Arab and Muslim Australians from the persecution they are currently experiencing.  It is clearly a very complex and deep-rooted problem.  The Ismaع report outlined a number of areas that require work, such as improving legal protection, promoting public awareness through education, addressing stereotypes and misinformation in public debate, ensuring community safety through law enforcement, empowering communities and fostering public support and solidarity with Arab and Muslim Australians.  The report also made 10 recommendations for action.  The first one calls for the introduction of a federal law making discrimination and vilification on the grounds of religion or belief unlawful.  If I were Attorney-General, I think that would be a good place to start.

Teena Balgi is co-convenor of the National Human Rights Network of the National Association of Community Legal Centres and a solicitor at Kingsford Legal Centre in Sydney.

Human Rights Yearbook 2006/2007

We are proud to present the Human Rights Law Resource Centre’s inaugural Yearbook for 2006/07. The Yearbook is divided into four sections.

Section 1 of the Yearbook provides an overview of some of the significant human rights issues and challenges that have confronted Australia during 2006/07.  Many of these issues have been at the core of social and political discourse and debate, including the need for a federal Charter of Rights, the human rights of Indigenous peoples (particularly in the context of the Federal Government’s intervention in the Northern Territory), the use (and arguable abuse) of counter-terrorism laws and measures, the detention of David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib in Guantanamo Bay, and Australian law, policy and diplomacy on the death penalty.

Section 2 of the Yearbook is a compilation of opinion articles written by some of Australia’s leading human rights advocates, activists and academics, including the Hon Elizabeth Evatt AC (former member of the UN Human Rights Committee), the Hon John von Doussa QC (President of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission), Dr Helen Szoke (CEO of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission), Waleed Aly (Islamic Council of Victoria) and Brian Walters SC (immediate Past President of Liberty Victoria).

Section 3 of the Yearbook is a collection of articles on the topic of ‘If I were Attorney General…’.  In these articles contributors such as Julian Burnside QC, Senator Joe Ludwig (Labor spokesperson on legal affairs), Kristen Hilton (Executive Director of PILCH) and Hugh de Kretser (Executive Officer of the Federation of Community Legal Centres) articulate their visions, strategies and actions in the areas of human rights and access to justice.

With the recent enactment of the ACT Human Rights Act 2004 and the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities 2006, together with the proposed development of Human Rights Acts in Tasmania and Western Australia, it is both inevitable and important that domestic law be informed by international and comparative human rights jurisprudence.  Section 4 of the Yearbook is a compilation of human rights case notes – grouped by right – from international, regional and comparative domestic courts and tribunals. Particularly during the early years of instruments such as the Victorian Charter and the ACT HRA, a time when ‘the development of an Australian jurisprudence drawing on international human rights law is in its early stages’ (Royal Women's Hospital v Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria [2006] VSCA 85, [71] per Maxwell P), it is critical that domestic courts and practitioners have close regard to this jurisprudence. The Yearbook makes a significant contribution in this respect.

Since its establishment in 2006, the Human Rights Law Resource Centre has made a substantial contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights through law.  In the landmark High Court case of Roach v Electoral Commissioner [2007] HCA 43, for example, the Centre established, for the first time in Australian history, that the Constitution enshrines the right to vote and that this right may only be limited for a ‘substantial reason’ and in a way that is appropriate, adapted and proportionate to that reason. This resulted in the reinstatement of the right to vote for almost 10,000 Australian prisoners, of whom at least 2,500 are Aboriginal.  Since its inception, the Centre has made over 25 major law reform submissions to international and domestic bodies, including in relation to civil justice reform, same-sex entitlements, corporate social responsibility, the use of force against prisoners, and proposed charters of rights in Tasmania and Western Australia.  Many of these submissions have been substantially implemented.  The UN Human Rights Committee’s General Comment on the Right to a Fair Hearing, for example, directly incorporates 4 of the Centre’s recommendations as to the normative content of that right.  The Tasmanian Law Reform Institute report on a Charter of Rights for Tasmania refers to the Centre’s submission as ‘persuasive’, ‘clear’ and ‘forceful’. Of course, this work is only made possible through the pro bono commitment and expertise of the Victorian Bar and firms such as Allens Arthur Robinson, Blake Dawson Waldron, Clayton Utz, DLA Phillips Fox, Freehills, Mallesons Stephen Jacques and Maurice Blackburn.

We are particularly indebted to the Mallesons Human Rights Law Group not only for their substantial human rights legal services and policy work, but also for designing and publishing this Yearbook.

With the adequacy and security of funding being an important determinant of our success, the financial and in-kind support of the Victoria Law Foundation, PILCH, the National Australia Bank, the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust, the R E Ross Trust, the Reichstein Foundation, Allens Arthur Robinson, Blake Dawson Waldron, Mallesons Stephen Jaques and Qantas has been, and will continue to be, critical.

 

Barriers to Justice: Access to Legal Services

There is an appalling lack of funding by Australian governments for the provision of legal assistance in relation to civil law matters. In 1997/1998, the Commonwealth Government removed $20 million from its funding of legal aid services.  The pre-1997 funding levels have never been restored and the current funding levels are, in real dollar terms, less than they were in 1996/1997.  The cuts to Commonwealth legal aid funding were coupled with the abandonment of the ‘cooperative’ model of funding which had allowed legal aid commissions to use funds from Commonwealth and State governments as they considered appropriate.  This meant that federal funds could no longer be used to fund criminal law matters and civil law matters arising under state law.  At the same time as the funding cuts, the Commonwealth introduced the ‘purchaser/ provider’ model which saw the government set guidelines which restricted the spending of Commonwealth legal aid funds on specific legal matters arising in the federal jurisdiction only.

This funding model has resulted in there being few or no government-funded legal assistance services in many areas of civil law.  Clients with civil law matters, other than family law or Children’s Court matters, will, in rare circumstances, receive assistance from legal aid commissions.  More often than not, they are ineligible for legal aid funding and seek assistance from community legal centres or pro bono lawyers.  Community legal centres, some of whom receive federal government funding, are not resourced to a level adequate to be able to advise on the range of civil law matters which arise and to issue and conduct proceedings.

Pro bono referral schemes, like the Public Interest Law Scheme, the Law Institute of Victoria Legal Assistance Scheme and the Victorian Bar Legal Assistance, have seen an increase in requests for assistance in meritorious civil law matters, particularly in relation to migration, bankruptcy, and employment law.  Pro bono barristers and solicitors make a major contribution to securing access to justice for many individuals who cannot afford legal assistance, but who require advice or representation in relation to a legal issue which they are facing.  However, there are limits to the capacity of pro bono lawyers to assist.  Some matters are too large and ‘open-ended’ to refer to pro bono lawyers.  In some circumstances, solicitors may have legal or commercial conflicts which prevent them from acting.  Some matters do not fit the ‘pro bono profile’; they may be about a case where a party took a commercial risk which back-fired and such cases are not considered appropriate for or deserving of pro bono assistance.  Pro bono has also only made limited in-roads in addressing the lack of access to legal services by Indigenous people and individuals living in rural and regional areas.

The lack of affordability of legal services and the lack of government-funded legal services leads to individuals self-representing at all levels in the court system.  In 2002/2003, 38% of parties in the Federal Court were self-represented litigants; in 2004, the Family Court reported that 47% of parties were self-represented at one stage; in the High Court in 2005/2005, in immigration, 88% of matters involved self-represented litigants.  Self-represented litigants place a large burden on the court systems.  However, most significantly, individuals’ substantive rights are undermined when they do not have legal assistance and they try to represent themselves in the court system but are without the skills and knowledge to effectively do so.

The protection and promotion of fundamental rights requires that there be an effective remedy available in circumstances where those rights have been violated.  Obtaining an effective remedy will, in many cases, require access to legal advice or representation to fully vindicate the breach of rights which has occurred.  It is important that, in the first instance, people have access to legal advice and information to understand whether or not they have a claim or a defence, and if they do have a meritorious case, that they have the legal representation required to vindicate their position through further litigation processes.

If I were Attorney-General, I would seek to implement the proposal for the ‘Restoration of a National Civil Legal Aid Scheme’ developed by the Australia Legal Assistance Forum and discussed at the Access to Justice and Pro Bono Conference in Melbourne in September 2006.  This proposal envisages that civil legal assistance would be available to an individual who meets a means test and who:

  1. 1.     has right of action against a person, a corporation or government which is justifiable in a court or a tribunal of competent jurisdiction;
  2. 2.     has been or is likely to be the subject of action in such a court or tribunal; and
  3. 3.     has a legal position which is assessed as having such merit, viz it passes the ‘reasonable prospects of success’ test, the ‘prudent self-funding litigant’ test and the ‘appropriateness of spending public funds’ test.

Importantly, under this model, funding would be staged and would start with funding for taking instructions and negotiations, and move through to funding for representation at a hearing.

Another key aspect of this new proposal is that the scale of fees to lawyers accepting briefs to act from legal aid commissions should not be less than the scale fee provided for in the rules of the jurisdiction in which the matter would ordinarily be litigated, or such fees as would ordinarily be paid by the prudent self-funded litigant in case where no scale is available.  This is essential if private lawyers are going to continue to be willing to accept legal aid work.

Legal redress should not be closed off to members of the community who have suffered a legal wrong, yet are without the means to pay for legal services.  The restoration of a proper civil legal aid scheme by the Commonwealth is essential if the legal system is to offer individuals the chance of finding justice.

Paula O’Brien is Executive Director of the Public Interest Law Clearing House (Vic)

Human Rights under Labor

As part of the fresh approach that Labor will be taking to the next election, we have engaged in a substantial rewrite of our National Platform. The most obvious improvement in this sense is our new position regarding a Bill or Charter of Rights.

In government, Labor will hold a full public inquiry into how best to protect the civil and political rights and freedoms of Australians.  This represents a significant departure from the unfortunate ‘Charter of Citizenship and Aspirations’ that featured in the 2004 platform.

It is our view that this is an important question for the Australian people themselves – and ownership of the process must reside with them – rather than being determined by just one political party.  To move forward on the recognition of fundamental human rights, we must therefore reach beyond party politics for a process that will be embraced by all Australians.

Some will be critical that this approach is not ideal.  To them I point out that Labor has twice already pushed for constitutional amendment to secure important human rights (in 1944 and 1988) and on both occasions these were rejected.  In my view, we Australians are a naturally cautious people, who like to be fully informed and comfortable about a decision before throwing in our lot.  In 1988, this was not achieved.  The broader human rights movement manifestly failed to make its case to the Australian people, and this resulted in the referendum securing the lowest level of support since federation.  The lesson to learn from this experience is that we must move with greater caution in the future.  This will, in the longer term, yield a far better solution and hopefully greater success.

So in government, Federal Labor will engage the Australian people in a dialogue about what they think on this issue - what rights require protection and how that should be achieved.

Labor will be moving to end discrimination in federal law against gays and lesbians.  This will necessarily involve legislative change to a raft of federal laws covering tax, superannuation, social welfare payments and benefits and worker’s compensation amongst other areas.  However, this move does not extend to any changes that might alter the meaning of marriage under Australian law.

In addition, and following on from the good work of Tasmania and Victoria, Federal Labor will be pushing for nationally consistent relationship recognition schemes that will allow the registration of de facto heterosexual, same sex couples and certain carer relationships.  The effect of these changes will be that homosexual couples have exactly the same rights under law as heterosexual couples.

In indigenous policy, ‘Sorry’ is good but it is no longer good enough – in this 40th anniversary of the 1967 referendum it is clear we have more to do to address the current situation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.  Jenny Macklin, Labor’s Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs, has been working hard to advance policy in her portfolio that will help overcome years of neglect under the Howard Government.  But there is also work to be done in the Attorney-General’s portfolio.

Wholesale reform of the process of adjudicating Native Title claims is clearly essential to break the log jam and free both industry and claimants from the endless red tape.  The chronic under-resourcing of Native Title Representative Bodies has become a major issue in the eyes of all involved, except of course for the increasingly out of touch Howard Government which refuses to fix the situation.

Fundamental to the fresh approach of a Rudd Labor Government would be the separation of the role of the nation’s first law officer from that of first security officer.  Under the Howard Government, human rights issues are not treated with the gravity they deserve.  This is despite the rights and freedoms of Australian citizens having never been more important than in an age when the threat of terror stalks our shores.  Let me dispel the myth that our rights are just something for do-gooders and bleeding-hearts to feel good about.  Adequate human rights protections provide guidance to law enforcement agencies and help ensure that they are clearly focussed on targeting genuine terrorist threats.  Security without human rights is not real security at all – something proven time and time again to be a recipe for political unrest and attacks on democracy.  Security without human rights means Abu Ghraib, or Guantanamo Bay.  Yet the Howard Government’s model of governance is one that does not allow for the full consideration of both.  The merging of both the security and human rights Ministerial functions, leaves the Attorney-General hopelessly conflicted.  Every time Phillip Ruddock prepares a security brief, he is forced to make a decision about what position he will take to Cabinet.  The inevitable flaw in this model is that either the human rights component or the security component is edited out before the argument even reaches the Cabinet table.  That’s why Labor-in-Government has proposed to split the security and oversight functions between a Department of Homeland Security and the Attorney-General’s Department.  In this way, both streams of advice would get a proper hearing at the cabinet table.  It is essential for good government, but Philip Ruddock remains vehemently opposed.  Mr Ruddock simply doesn’t understand the value in separating policy streams and ensuring adequate transparency and oversight.  We only need look at his time as Minister for Immigration to see just how dangerous this can be, when that department became infected with a culture of concealment and cavalier attitude to human rights from the top down.

After 11 long years in power the Howard Government has clearly run out of puff.  At the same time, Federal Labor has never been as ready or keen to step up to the plate and confront head on these and the many other challenges of the future.

Senator Joe Ludwig is the Federal Shadow Attorney-General

If I Were Attorney-General - Michael Pearce SC

If I were Attorney-General I would be daunted by the task ahead of me.  A decade or more of lawlessness abroad and abuse of the law at home has created such a backlog of immediately needed action that I would scarcely know where to begin.  Here is the most pressing action I would take. First, I would advise the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister that the detention of David Hicks in Guantanamo Bay is contrary to international law, that he will not get a fair trial in the US Military Commission as currently proposed, and that the refusal by the Australian Government to seek his release amounts to a dereliction of its duty to an Australian citizen.  I would advise them to seek his immediate release and repatriation to Australia.

Next I would advise the Minister for Immigration that the exiling of long-term Australian residents like Stefan Nystrom and Robert Jovicic on character grounds was contrary to international law and damaging to Australia’s international reputation.  I would recommend the repeal of those parts of the Migration Act which permit this practice and the immediate repatriation, at the Government’s cost, of those who have been deported under these provisions.

Separately I would advise the Minister for Immigration that the mandatory detention of asylum seekers both within and outside Australia was a breach of Australia’s international obligations and should be immediately abandoned and replaced by a system of processing in accordance with those obligations.

I would give reversal of these policies priority because of what they symbolise: a Government which is dismissive of its legal obligations and which treats human beings as expendable in accordance with political expediency.  These policies have been so damaging to Australia’s reputation and corrosive of its national conscience that their firm and swift repudiation would be imperative.

Next I would announce a review of the raft of anti-terrorist legislation which has been passed over the last few years.  I would seek a critical review of the excesses of that legislation, such as the over-wide definition of ‘terrorist act’, the offence of inadvertently financing a terrorist organisation, the lack of proper protections and accountability in the new investigative powers, control and preventive detention orders, and the sedition laws.  I would propose to wind back the law so that it provided the necessary protections and powers for the fight against terrorism but did not sacrifice long-standing freedoms and civil rights.

With a view to avoiding such excesses in the future, I would appoint an independent inquiry into a Commonwealth charter of rights, following the lead of the ACT and Victoria.  The inquiry would investigate the various models and be charged with making recommendations to the Government on the introduction of a charter.

I would next appoint an inquiry into legal aid.  The focus of the inquiry would be to advise on the level of funding necessary to restore legal aid to its original role of providing access to justice – both criminal and civil – for all, and how such funding could be obtained.

I would institute a review into the staffing of the Attorney-General’s Department to result in its ‘de-politicisation’ and its reinstatement as a source of fearless and independent advice and policy formulation.

I would, however, reaffirm the current process of appointment of judges.  As long as there is a strict separation of powers, I think the Executive Government is entitled to exercise its prerogative of appointing judges.  It should be able to influence the judiciary to that extent but that extent only.  The corollary of that prerogative is the strict independence of the judiciary and this entails not only freedom from removal but proper pay and working conditions for judges and freedom from political attack.  It also imposes a responsibility on Government not to abuse the prerogative by making obviously unsuitable appointments.

I would also reaffirm the Government’s Model Litigant policy but insist that it be more than an empty formulation.  The Australian Government Solicitor and other Government lawyers would be instructed to adhere strictly to this policy and to avoid the kind of litigation strategies and tactics which, though defensible for private litigants, are inconsistent with the Government’s peculiar and unique position as a litigant.

That should just about fill the first week.  After that I might take a break and contemplate the second.

Michael Pearce SC is Vice-President of Liberty Victoria

If I were Attorney General April 2007

If I were Attorney-General I would be daunted by the task ahead of me.  A decade or more of lawlessness abroad and abuse of the law at home has created such a backlog of immediately needed action that I would scarcely know where to begin.  Here is the most pressing action I would take. First, I would advise the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister that the detention of David Hicks in Guantanamo Bay is contrary to international law, that he will not get a fair trial in the US Military Commission as currently proposed, and that the refusal by the Australian Government to seek his release amounts to a dereliction of its duty to an Australian citizen.  I would advise them to seek his immediate release and repatriation to Australia.

Next I would advise the Minister for Immigration that the exiling of long-term Australian residents like Stefan Nystrom and Robert Jovicic on character grounds was contrary to international law and damaging to Australia’s international reputation.  I would recommend the repeal of those parts of the Migration Act which permit this practice and the immediate repatriation, at the Government’s cost, of those who have been deported under these provisions.

Separately I would advise the Minister for Immigration that the mandatory detention of asylum seekers both within and outside Australia was a breach of Australia’s international obligations and should be immediately abandoned and replaced by a system of processing in accordance with those obligations.

I would give reversal of these policies priority because of what they symbolise: a Government which is dismissive of its legal obligations and which treats human beings as expendable in accordance with political expediency.  These policies have been so damaging to Australia’s reputation and corrosive of its national conscience that their firm and swift repudiation would be imperative.

Next I would announce a review of the raft of anti-terrorist legislation which has been passed over the last few years.  I would seek a critical review of the excesses of that legislation, such as the over-wide definition of ‘terrorist act’, the offence of inadvertently financing a terrorist organisation, the lack of proper protections and accountability in the new investigative powers, control and preventive detention orders, and the sedition laws.  I would propose to wind back the law so that it provided the necessary protections and powers for the fight against terrorism but did not sacrifice long-standing freedoms and civil rights.

With a view to avoiding such excesses in the future, I would appoint an independent inquiry into a Commonwealth charter of rights, following the lead of the ACT and Victoria.  The inquiry would investigate the various models and be charged with making recommendations to the Government on the introduction of a charter.

I would next appoint an inquiry into legal aid.  The focus of the inquiry would be to advise on the level of funding necessary to restore legal aid to its original role of providing access to justice – both criminal and civil – for all, and how such funding could be obtained.

I would institute a review into the staffing of the Attorney-General’s Department to result in its ‘de-politicisation’ and its reinstatement as a source of fearless and independent advice and policy formulation.

I would, however, reaffirm the current process of appointment of judges.  As long as there is a strict separation of powers, I think the Executive Government is entitled to exercise its prerogative of appointing judges.  It should be able to influence the judiciary to that extent but that extent only.  The corollary of that prerogative is the strict independence of the judiciary and this entails not only freedom from removal but proper pay and working conditions for judges and freedom from political attack.  It also imposes a responsibility on Government not to abuse the prerogative by making obviously unsuitable appointments.

I would also reaffirm the Government’s Model Litigant policy but insist that it be more than an empty formulation.  The Australian Government Solicitor and other Government lawyers would be instructed to adhere strictly to this policy and to avoid the kind of litigation strategies and tactics which, though defensible for private litigants, are inconsistent with the Government’s peculiar and unique position as a litigant.

That should just about fill the first week.  After that I might take a break and contemplate the second.

Michael Pearce SC is Vice-President of Liberty Victoria

Human Dignity and Socio-Economic Rights are Indivisible

On 4 May 2006, in the second reading speech for the now adopted Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities, I declared that the Charter would provide ‘a lasting statement of the fundamental values’ necessary ‘for the freedom and good government of our communities.’  I proclaimed that it would enshrine the ‘values of decency, respect and human dignity in our law’ and would lay ‘the foundations for protecting human rights in the daily lives of all Victorians.’  I must now concede that my claims were somewhat inflated.  The Charter will indeed operate to ‘help us become a more tolerant society, one which respects diversity and the basic dignity of all’.  But it tells only part of the story.  The full dignity of every individual will not be secured by the protection of his or her civil and political rights alone.  On the contrary, it is incumbent upon the State of Victoria to respect, protect and fulfil the full range of economic, social and cultural rights which have been recognised under international law.  The Federal Government may flout with contempt the nature of the obligations it has assumed with respect to these rights, but I believe it is incumbent upon myself to advocate for the recognition and full protection of such rights within Victoria. Economic and social rights were omitted from the Victorian Charter ostensibly because they lacked the ‘strong measure of acceptance’ enjoyed by civil and political rights within the community.  In truth, however the Victorian Government’s Statement of Intent on the Proposed Charter indicated that such rights were never to be included because of their perceived resource implications.  Moreover the Consultation Committee happily obliged by recommending that they should not be included at this point in time despite 41 per cent of submissions urging their inclusion.  Some commentators will no doubt critique and condemn the merits of this approach.   The reality, however, is that the Charter requires me to undertake a review of its operation after its first 4 years with a view to considering whether any additional human rights, including economic and social rights, should be included in the Charter.  Although mine will not be the sole voice that determines the content of this review, I intend to commit myself to the promotion of such rights with a view to securing their inclusion within the Charter in 4 years time for 3 fundamental reasons.

First, human dignity cannot be secured by the protection of civil and political rights alone.  The international community has already recognised the artificial nature of the distinction between such rights and economic and social rights and declared that all rights are interdependent and indivisible.  Simply translated, this means that the right to freedom of expression, for example, is of little value if a person is denied a right to an education; while the right to vote is meaningless in the absence of a right to adequate housing and nutrition.

Second, the fears associated with the perceived resource allocations required for the realisation of economic and social rights are misplaced.  It assumes that civil and political rights are resource neutral which is entirely inaccurate.  The right to life for example does not simply demand that States refrain from taking life but effectively requires the provision of measures to protect life such as an effective police force.  The right to a fair trial requires the provision of an independent and impartial judicial system, a competent prosecution body and access to legal aid.

Moreover, the experience of other jurisdictions demonstrates that economic and social rights are capable of constitutional or legislative protection without destroying Government processes.  In South Africa, for example, where economic and social rights are justiciable, there has been no avalanche of litigation and no usurpation of the Parliament’s role by the courts.  On the contrary the Courts have adopted a sophisticated and sensitive role in the adjudication of economic and social rights and expressed a reluctance to question the allocation of resources where such decisions are considered to be reasonable and taken in good faith.

Third, although Victoria is a prosperous State, there remain significant and real pockets of disadvantage and poverty, whether they be homelessness, or a lack of access to education and health care services.  Human rights are intended to address such disadvantage and inequality.  I concede that this will require the allocation of additional resources.  But at the same time, it is important to remember, as the Treasurer proclaimed in his 2006-07 Budget Speech, that ‘for the seventh consecutive year, the Government will meet its commitment to deliver an operating surplus in excess of $100 million’ and ‘deliver a surplus of $317 million in 2006-07 and surpluses averaging $316 million over the following three years’.  These are not figures to be proud of when families are struggling to feed and educate their children, the elderly are waiting on hospital lists for years and the homeless remain unable to find a safe place to rest.

As Attorney General, I now accept that the role of the Human Rights Charter is not simply to protect individuals from unjustified interference with their liberty by the State.  Rather, the role of Government in a modern democratic State is to create and facilitate the conditions under which the full and fundamental dignity of each individual is secured.  The explicit protection of economic and social rights within the Victorian Charter is critical to the realisation of this objective.  Until their inclusion is secured, the ‘powerful symbolic and educative tool’ that the Charter will come to play within Victoria will remain compromised and incomplete.

John Tobin is a Senior Lecturer at the Melbourne Law School and Chair of the Human Rights Law Resource Centre Advisory Committee

If I Were Attorney General - Hugh de Kretser

For the past 35 years, community legal centres have been at the forefront of developing innovative strategies to provide genuine access to justice for disadvantaged Australians.  Community legal centres deliver a mix of individual client services, community legal education and law reform activities.  Centres recognise that access to justice extends beyond simply advising clients, for example, that they have no recourse if they have been unfairly sacked from their employment.  It extends to advocating for laws that appropriately protect clients against unfair dismissal. In the interests of our clients, community legal centres advocate for change when the law is not working properly or fairly.  Our family law system, our family violence laws and protocols, the way we deal with deaths in custody, the way our courts treat victims of sexual abuse, our credit and debt laws, our infringements scheme and many other important tenets of the legal system have been shaped for the better by the law reform contributions of community legal centres.

If I were Attorney General, I would actively encourage community legal centres to continue their vital law reform and policy work and I would commit funding to enable them to do it effectively.  I might get frustrated if a government-funded centre criticised one of my government’s policies, but I would recognise that the debate would be good for testing the merits of our ideas and good for democracy.

I would then draw a deep breath and turn to my long list of policies.

Currently, there is no Federal or Victorian legislation prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of an irrelevant criminal record.  It is perfectly lawful for an employer to refuse to hire or sack a worker for a criminal record that has got nothing to do with the particular job.  So, a real estate agency can refuse to hire a receptionist for a possession of cannabis offence from 5 years ago and a government department can refuse to hire a telephone operator because of a drink driving offence.

Research suggests that the majority of people with a criminal record offend only once, when they are young, and never offend again.  Yet, even a single offence on a criminal record can generate strong negative prejudices about the risk of future offending, even if many crime-free years have passed since that offence.  Discrimination on these grounds discourages rehabilitation and ultimately reduces community safety.

We need to strike the right balance between the risk of reoffending and rehabilitation.

Where an offence is relevant to the job, for example, an applicant with dishonesty offences seeking work in bank, or a sex offender applying for work with children, an employer should obviously be able to refuse employment.  But where the offence has nothing to do with the job, discrimination should be prohibited.  As Attorney General, I would ban discrimination on the grounds of an irrelevant criminal record.

My experiences as an employment lawyer for both employers and workers have made me acutely aware that loss of employment can have an enormous detrimental impact on individuals, their family and the community.  Australian laws should protect against unfair loss of employment.

Currently, employees in businesses with 100 or less employees are exempt from unfair dismissal laws.  Yet, many of the worst unfair dismissal cases I have seen have involved small businesses who either did not know the law or did not care.  Unfair dismissal laws are not onerous.  They require employers to do only two things; have a good reason for the dismissal and carry out the dismissal in a fair way.  No employer, whatever their size, can seriously argue that they need the right to sack their employees unfairly.

As Attorney General, I would act to have my government reinstate unfair dismissal laws for all employees and I would dedicate resources towards providing proper free advice services for small businesses to assist them to comply with their obligations.

I would then introduce a Human Rights Act in Australia and provide a right to sue for damages for breaches of human rights.  I would recognise that depriving prisoners of the right to vote is counter productive to rehabilitation and their responsible participation in society and so I would restore that right.  I would provide legal aid funding for civil law matters.  I would look at the feasibility of providing tax deductions for the value of pro bono work done by private law firms and barristers.

In Victoria, I would legislate to make Victoria Police vicariously liable for the unlawful acts of its officers committed in the course of duty in the same way that any other employer is liable for the wrongs of employees in the course of their employment.  I would expand the civil law jurisdiction of VCAT to cover motor vehicle accidents, fencing disputes, personal civil disputes and appeals against prison Governor’s Hearings.  I would strengthen the power of the Coroners Court to make recommendations and I would make it compulsory for Government departments to report back on the implementation of recommendations.  I would set up a non-litigious scheme along the lines of the Tasmanian Government’s recent initiative to provide acknowledgement and compensation for past victims of sexual abuse while in state care.

I would then retire and go back to volunteering at a community legal centre to remember what life was like at the coal face of legal service delivery.

Hugh de Kretser is the Executive Officer of the Federation of Community Legal Centres (Vic) Inc

The Right to Protest and Human Rights

If I were Attorney-General, I’d recognise the close interdependence between protest and human rights. You can tell public opinion is going against protestors when even Bono, the activist lead singer of Irish rock group U2, condemns their behaviour.  In the wake of the G20 protests in Melbourne, Bono told the ABC that to ‘argue rationally and emotionally is OK, but not to the point of smashing up the downtown area of Melbourne.’

The protests surrounding the two-day G20 summit on 18-19 November 2006 were widely reported as a raucous affair which on occasion tipped over into violence.  Rumours were reported as fact in the often hysteria-tinged coverage of the protests.

The News Limited website, for instance, uploaded a story titled ‘Arrests as anti-G20 turns violent’, reporting that ‘Protestors in bandannas hurled flares, horse manure, fake blood and urine-filled balloons.’  In fact it was the Federal Treasurer Peter Costello who claimed that G20 protestors had flung urine-filled balloons, a claim later dismissed by Victoria Police.  The story variously described the protestors as a ‘hardcore mob’ and ‘thugs’, unleashing ‘mayhem’ and ‘chaos’ when the protests ‘exploded with violence.’

By contrast, the Human Rights Observer Team who monitored the event observed a ‘series of disparate protests surrounding the G20 meeting [that] were generally peaceful and non-violent aside from a sporadic series of incidents.’

Demonstrations engender debates about their legitimacy, especially when they are characterized by considerable disruption or tainted by violence.  It should not need to be said that violence is never acceptable, whether by citizens or by authorities.  Violence is antithetical to the protection and promotion of human rights.

Violence presents a challenge for the legitimacy of protest.  However, representations of violence in the context of particular protests should not tempt us into the wholesale delegitimation and devaluation of protest as a valid form of political expression and a fundamental human right.

In the context of political demonstrations, it is more often the ‘threat of violence’ that is used to justify banning of protests and the criminalisation of lawful political activity.  In the lead up to many protests, police and media have vilified protesters in order to create a climate that attempts to justify any future violence against them.

Like violence itself, these practices are extremely damaging, as they corrode public confidence in the value of protest, and the importance of the human rights which protect this form of democratic activity.

There are many forms of protest and protests are one form of political behaviour through a spectrum that includes ‘voting, electioneering and opinionating over talkback radio.’  Protesting is underpinned by a number of important human rights, and is sometimes the only means of expression available for those most in need of human rights protection, the politically powerless or voiceless.  As one example of this, witness asylum seekers in detention centres sewing their lips together in silent protest.

Australia has a long history of tolerance to and recognition of the right to protest as a legitimate form of political expression.  In Law, Liberty and Australian Democracy, Gaze and Jones write:

Public assemblies are essential to the proper functioning of democracy, in situations ranging from election and political party meetings to demonstrations organized to protest about government policies or other issues.  The right of public assembly is significant not only for political reasons, but also as an important aspect of respect for individual autonomy, because without the right to express views in public and to call public assemblies for this purpose, the right of the individual to self-expression is very limited.  The right of public assembly gives the individual access to a public forum for expression of views and provides a mechanism for individuals to take action as a group.  The right to assemble is closely based on the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association.

A right to freedom of peaceful assembly is part of international law under art 20 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights and art 21 of the ICCPR.  The right to engage in participatory democracy ‘without unreasonable restrictions’ is clearly acknowledged by art 25 of the ICCPR.

Notwithstanding this, the rights of protesters are regularly violated in protest situations.  While art 9 of the ICCPR prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, police in Australia commonly use arbitrary arrests and detention, special bail conditions to deny rights to peaceful assembly and other actions which contravene international law.

In this context, the experience of Drasko Boljevic is perhaps not so surprising.  On 19 November, Boljevic was buying a drink at a Swanston Street convenience store when a group of men in casual clothes grabbed him and threw him into an unmarked white van.  Boljevice was later released after the police realized they had the wrong person.  The HRO Team who observed the G20 protests also expressed concern about the use excessive force by police including the use of over-handed baton strikes without warning leading to injuries of several protestors.

We shouldn’t allow protest to be devalued and demeaned through associations with violence.  When this occurs, we create the conditions for further human rights breaches.  Like the rhetoric of ‘children overboard’ and the treatment of asylum seekers, devaluing the right to participate in democracy through peaceful assembly and other forms of political activity lays the groundwork for violence which is unacceptable in any form and by whomever perpetrated.

Protests are an important part of our participatory democracy.  If activism and peaceful protest are under threat, so are human rights.  Promoting and protecting all human rights, including the right to protest, is an important and valuable undertaking.  Sometimes the two are indistinguishable.  Those sweating in the hot sun at Federation Square in a peaceful assembly on 9 December 2006 in downtown Melbourne would probably agree with Bono on this point, who, like them, called for the release of David Hicks.

Stan Winford is a Lawyer and Legal Projects Officer with Fitzroy Legal Service